Because they are both personality disorders, antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) shares many of the same traits as borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, the causes of these conditions and how they manifest can be strikingly different. Learn more about the differences between antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder so you can receive proper treatment.
Both ASPD and BPD are Cluster B personality disorders in the DSM-5. Cluster B disorders are characterized by overly emotional, dramatic, and unpredictable thinking and behavior. Both conditions are marked by disinhibition, hostility, and impulsivity. ASPD and BDP are also characterized by an increased suicide rate of between 3% and 10%.
However, the two conditions differ in important ways. While antisocial personality disorder is marked by few emotions and affects more men than women, borderline personality disorder consists of extreme emotions and affects both men and women equally.
Disregard for safety
Manipulates for money/power/pleasure
More common in men
A person must be 18+ to be diagnosed with ASPD
Psychotherapy is not effective
Intense, volatile emotions
Fear of abandonment
Shifting identity(Video) Antisocial Personality Disorder vs. Borderline Personality Disorder
Equally present in men and women
A person of any age can be diagnosed with BPD
Psychotherapy can be effective
ASPD Personality Traits
According to the DSM-5, people with ASPD may exhibit the following behavioral characteristics:
- Antagonism: Antagonism in ASPD is displayed through manipulation, such as using charming behavior to influence someone. People with ASPD often engage in vengeful behaviors over minor slights and may even resort to aggression, violence, and cruelty.
- Disinhibition: Disinhibition in ASPD is characterized by a disregard of social conventions and reckless, risk-taking behaviors at the expense of others' safety or feelings. It is not uncommon for people with ASPD to break promises, miss appointments, or drop activities out of boredom or spite.
- Emotional detachment: People with ASPD exhibit greater egocentric behaviors, making it difficult to establish balanced and supportive relationships. This emotional detachment can complicate psychotherapy, the practice of which relies heavily on open interaction.
BPD Personality Traits
People with BPD may have the following personality traits:
- Negative affectivity: Negative affectivity is characterized by unstable and unpredictable mood changes that are more dramatic than a situation warrants. This includes intense anxiety over social situations, persistent fear of rejection, or sudden swings into a deep depression, shame, or guilt. Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon.
- Disinhibition: People with BPD may engage in impulsive, risky behaviors, often due to frantic efforts to avoid real or anticipated abandonment or to change intolerable emotional states. These actions are often turned inward, resulting in self-harm or self-destructiveness. Appointments, promises, and activities will be readily dropped more out of a sense of hopelessness or anger than out of boredom.
- Antagonism: People with BPD are easily spurred to anger but are less likely to shut others out. Rather, they will seek out relationships that can alternate between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
The exact causes of ASPD and BPD are not clear, but the two conditions share some risk factors in common. The following are known to increase the risk of a person developing a Cluster B personality disorder:
- Brain differences: Imaging studies suggest that people with ASPD and BPD have structural differences in areas of the brain that regulate emotions and impulse control.
- Family history: Having a family member who has a Cluster B personality disorder increases the risk that a person will also develop ASPD or BPD.
- Experiences: Stressful and traumatic life events such as attachment problems, neglect, and abuse increase the risk of developing these conditions.
Some evidence suggests that these conditions are influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Because the two conditions share similarities, it is important to look for the key differences that differentiate them. Both conditions involve severe problems with self-functioning and interpersonal functioning, but the way these symptoms manifest is somewhat different between ASPD and BPD.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR), a person with antisocial personality disorder must be at least 18 years old and have severe problems functioning in these two specific areas:
- Self-functioning: ASPD is broadly defined as behaviors in which people think only of themselves and/or focus on personal goals and gratification without taking into account what is culturally acceptable or ethical. By definition, people with ASPD gain a sense of self-esteem from pursuing pleasure, power, or getting what they want.
- Interpersonal functioning: People with ASPD cannot display concern or empathy for other people's feelings or needs. They have difficulty forming any true sense of intimacy and instead use power to exert dominance in a relationship.
Borderline Personality Disorder
To be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a person must have severe problems functioning in both of these areas:
- Self-functioning: People with BPD typically struggle with identity and are prone to feelings of emptiness, self-loathing, and worthlessness. Because of this, they have difficulty establishing goals or pursuing long-term interests, often undermining themselves at every turn.
- Interpersonal functioning: Feelings of low self-esteem typically manifest in hypersensitivity to anything construed as criticism or rejection. People with BPD tend to lash out irrationally at even minor slights (like interruptions in conversation). Unable to see beyond their own feelings, people with BPD tend to lack empathy and find themselves in unstable relationships prone to conflict.
People with borderline personality disorder may display symptoms similar to ASPD. However, with ASPD, manipulation occurs as a way to get what a person wants (such as power or money), whereas with BPD, it occurs as a way to gain nurturance from others.
Certain forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), such asdialectical behavior therapy(DBT) and mentalization-based therapy (MBT), have been extremely effective in treating BPD.
By contrast, ASPD is notoriously difficult to treat with psychotherapy. People with the condition rarely seek treatment independently and may only come into contact with treatment due to arrest and incarceration. Some evidence suggests that long-term therapy with CBT may help people gain insight and improve their behavior.
Medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, and mood stabilizers can also help manage symptoms associated with BPD or ASPD, such as depression, aggression, or co-occurring disorders.
There is no way to prevent antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. If you know that you have a family history of BPD, watching for signs and getting an early diagnosis and treatment may help improve outcomes.
ASPD is sometimes preceded by conduct disorder during childhood. Getting an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of conduct disorder during childhood may help minimize the risk of developing ASPD during adulthood.
Antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder are both Cluster B personality disorders that share several symptoms in common. However, there are important differences that distinguish between the two conditions. Both conditions are thought to be caused by factors such as brain differences, genetics, and adverse experiences. BPD may respond to psychotherapy and medication, but ASPD is very difficult to treat with psychotherapy.
A Word From Verywell
Antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder are two distinct conditions, although they do have some overlapping features. It's possible to have both since many people have more than one personality disorder. If you think you might have a personality disorder or you're concerned about your mood and behavior, talk to your doctor. Only a trained mental health professional can diagnose you.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between ASPD and BPD?
There are just as many differences between ASPD and BPD as there are similarities, including:
- Symptoms: ASPD consists of few emotions, while BPD consists of extreme emotions, mood swings, and an inability to regulate emotions.
- Gender: Some research suggests that BPD is equally common in men and women, but men are less likely to seek treatment. By contrast, ASPD is around five times more common in men than women.
- Age: There is no age requirement for BPD. However, you must be 18 or over to be diagnosed with ASPD.
Can you be BPD and ASPD?
Yes, it is possible to have both conditions at the same time. Having both conditions is associated with an increased risk for psychopathy and violence. Estimates vary, but research suggests that around 20% of men with borderline personality disorder also have antisocial personality disorder.
Is BPD a form of psychopathy?
While people with BPD may have some traits in common with ASPD, it is not a form of psychopathy. Antisocial personality disorder, on the other hand, is connected to psychopathy and sociopathy. Research indicates that around a third of people with ASPD can be considered psychopaths.
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD
Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University.
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Differences in ASPD vs.
Symptoms: ASPD consists of few emotions, while BPD consists of extreme emotions, mood swings, and an inability to regulate emotions.
What is the difference between narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder? ›
What is the difference between borderline personality disorder and narcissism? People with both types of disorders may have very low self-worth. But in NPD, that leads to egotistical behavior and a lack of empathy. In BPD, anger may be turned inward, resulting in frequent changes in behavior and mood.
The gestalt difference is that someone with BPD often feels out of control and victimized while the psychopath is more able to regulate his or her affect and derives a sense of power from the ability to manipulate, deceive and control others.
Thus, one interpretation is that BPD may be a female-specific manifestation of psychopathy—at least the secondary variant—among women who oscillate between extremes of emotional dysregulation and manipulative callousness.
Lack of cognitive empathy, ToM, mentalizing, social cognition, or emotional intelligence was found to be a common feature among patients with BPD.
Differences in BPD and NPD
For people with NPD, their emotions may be shallow, except for rage. People with BPD have a fear of both abandonment and engulfment. People with NPD may have a pervasive sense of grandiosity. People with BPD can have suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
Gentle: Don't attack, threaten, or lay guilt trips. (Act) Interested: Listen to what your partner has to say, don't interrupt them, and be sensitive to what they are feeling. Validate: Be non-judgmental and validate their feelings and problems. Easy Manner: Try to be lighthearted and ease your partner along.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of extreme moods, fluctuating self-image, and erratic behaviors characterized by impulsive actions, sudden shifts to intense anger or sadness, depression, anxiety, problems in relationships, and even violence.
- bipolar disorder.
- complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
Antisocial personality disorder is a particularly challenging type of personality disorder characterised by impulsive, irresponsible and often criminal behaviour. Someone with antisocial personality disorder will typically be manipulative, deceitful and reckless, and will not care for other people's feelings.
Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorder☆
Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a disregard for the rights of others often exemplified by criminal behavior and a lack of remorse. Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a grandiose sense of self and pathological self-centeredness.